The Leonid meteor shower will be reaching its peak this Saturday night (early Sunday morning) on November 16, 2013. The typically prolific meteor shower is expected to reach a peak rate this year of about 10-20 meteors an hour — notably lower than during the years of meteor storms, but still a pretty good show.
The Moon will be in a relatively bright portion of its cycle during the peak this year though, so some of the duller meteors will likely simply be washed out by the Moon’s light, limiting the numbers seen. The Leonids are known for producing occasional super-bright fireballs though, so the meteor shower should be an interesting one even with a bright Moon out.
The best time to with for Leonids is typically between the hours of 2-5am, but really anytime after dark you should be able to spot some. As this name suggests, most of the meteors will appear to be originating from the portion of the sky containing the constellation of Leo the Lion — rising in the East after midnight. For those that can’t make it out Saturday night/Sunday morning, it’s worth noting that the show the following night will likely be nearly as good, on Sundaynight/Monday morning.
As we reported before: “While this year’s show isn’t expected to be anything spectacular, spectacular is what the Leonids are known for being — having produced some of the greatest meteor storms of the past three hundred years. In 1966 peak rates reached as high as several thousand meteors a minute, as seen from dark, rural locations — apparently appearing almost like falling rain, by some accounts. It was reported that because of the great number of meteors all appearing to originate from the same portion of the sky that many observers felt like they had to grip the ground to avoid falling over — with the Earth apparently appearing to be plowing through space at a great speed (as it actually is), rather than appearing stationary as it typically does to human perception.”
For information on the other meteor showers of 2013, including December’s Geminids, see: Meteor Showers 2013, Dates and Times, Geminids, Leonids, Ursids, Taurids, Perseids, Quadrantids, Etc.
Some things to keep in mind when meteor watching:
• What you want is the darkest sky that you can find, preferably far away from city lights — dark, rural locations are the ideal.
• Try to get as comfortable as you can— a reclining chair, warm clothes, blankets, pillows, etc.
• A cup of warm coffee or hot chocolate tends to make the experience more enjoyable. 🙂
Image Credit: Leonid via Flickr CC